In Montreal 2017, Rafael Nadal experienced a shocking defeat to the young gun Denis Shapovalov. Eager to improve his game and chase a better result, Nadal entered the following week's Cincinnati Masters as the top seed, seeking the first Ohio title since 2013.
Rafa beat Richard Gasquet in the second round and was the favorite in the third against compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Nadal toppled Ramos-Vinolas 7-6, 6-2 in an hour and 38 minutes for his seventh Cincinnati quarter-final and Nick Kyrgios clash.
It was their fourth match and the fourth victory for Rafa, who did not play at his best but still sealed the deal in straight sets after a tight opener. Nadal hit 19 winners and 25 unforced errors, while his rival landed 11 winners and over 30 mistakes to plague his chances.
They both played too many loose forehands, and it was Rafa who emerged at the top when it mattered the most to grab the victory in straight sets and preserve energy for a far more dangerous rival.
Rafael Nadal defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Cincinnati 2017.
Nadal had the upper hand in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, landing a service winner in 30% of all the serves and building his advantage in that segment.
Ramos-Vinolas squandered all four break chances and suffered two breaks in set number two to propel the better-ranked compatriot into the last eight. It was Nadal's 11th straight victory against the fellow Spaniards, winning 22 consecutive sets played against them.
Rafa landed an ace for a hold at love in the opening game and forced the opponent's error at 1-1 to remain ahead. Serving well and controlling the pace with his groundstrokes, Albert stayed in touch in the opening half an hour to lock the result at 4-4.
Nadal held after deuce in the ninth game and created a set point in the next one that Ramos-Vinolas saved with a powerful serve & forehand combo. Both players served well in games 11 and 12 to introduce a tie break, and Rafa opened a 4-1 advantage with two winners.
Serving at 6-1, Nadal hit a service winner to wrap up the set in just under an hour and avoid an early setback. Rafa fended off a break chance at the beginning of the second set and faced three more at 1-2. The top seed repelled those with powerful serves and hit five consecutive winners to bring the game home in style.
Ramos-Vinolas netted a forehand in the next one to experience the first break and fall behind before Nadal moved 5-2 up with another return game on his tally. Rafa served for the victory and landed a forehand winner for a hold at love and a place in the quarters.